MEAP or Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms provide the platform (tools and infrastructure) to develop enterprise applications for mobile. Mobile application development has been in news since the advent of smart phones. A smart phone is a mobile phone built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity than a feature phone (Wikipedia). Smartphone market was lead earlier by Blackberry but has been hijacked by Apple with iPhone. The real competition began with the entry of Google with their Java based Android operation system. The collaboration of Samsung (hardware) and Google (Android OS) led to a range of smart phones in the market. Now, Samsung leads the sales of smart phone but Apple is the clear leader in terms of profit/revenue.
The latest sales reports seem to agree with the increasing growth of smart phones sales and the subsequent decline in the sales of laptops. The latest Gartner Report Says that, Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 8 Percent in Third Quarter of 2012 whereas sales of smartphones were up by 42.7% to 154 million units, with Apple and Samsung together accounting for 83% of all smartphone sales. Just to highlight the impact of smartphones in the device market, over one-third (36.7%) of all devices sold were smartphones.
The smartphone device market is however a beginner in comparison to its older compatriots like laptops. The challenge to the developer community is to adapt to the speed at which mobile software/apps market is undergoing change. In standard desktop application implementation, we would either consider application for Windows or Mac. Even a change in the OS offering from these vendors is backward compatible. The scenario in mobile OS market is totally different. There is a new OS offering once every 3 months. Also, the mobile device features change with every new version of the mobile. So, the real challenge is not about developing your application but to sustain it through these changes in software and hardware. Right here, jumps in MEAPs to stabilize the situation.
SUP as a MEAP:
Sybase Unwired Platform(SUP) which is SAP’s MEAP, acts as an information bridge between the device user and the enterprise data that’s is secured behind the corporate firewall or hosted in a cloud infrastructure. It allows developers to easily push the applications into Android, iOS, RIM, Windows based devices. In future, if new OS gains traction, the MEAPs will be able to provide the necessary plug-ins.
It is nightmare scenario for the IT team to track the data which is being accessed by mobile phones in the public network. Also, the device which will eventually hold the data is prone to theft and can result in a major data security theft. SUP acts as the backbone on which the security issues of the data on network and on device are handled. SUP will allow the administrator to manage the applications and devices. They are geared to handle the application and data on the device from the control center ex: wipe-off data on the device in case of theft from the central server.
Inspite of all the offering the customers will go ahead with plain-vanilla development and its fair that individual developers would follow the same path. But, enterprise users will need a platform to factor the growing need for mobile applications to fulfill the needs of customers/employees without compromising the security/TCD (O) (Total Cost of Development or Ownership) of the applications.
Please share your feedback and experience with mobile development with/without a MEAP.